The Faithfulness of God
Scripture Reading: Lamentations 3
Text: Lamentations 3:23
Sermon by Rev. James Reaves
Orthodox Christian Reformed Church of Kelowna, British Columbia
© Burlington United Reformed Church; The Preacher, Vol. 20, No. 8
This sermon may be used in worship services for free; please state the author and church above.
Beloved congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,
Years ago I remember visiting Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming with my family. We drove around the park, saw a variety of interesting and different geysers and enjoyed ourselves greatly. Today I try and remember the geysers that we saw. They all had names, but there is only one that I can remember – the one they call “Old Faithful.”
In those days you could always count on Old Faithful. Every ninety minutes or so the geyser would erupt and send its plume of steaming water 100 feet into the air. The other geyers were more or less hit and miss. Many of them we never saw because you never knew when they would erupt. But Old Faithful was a geyser you could count on. It didn’t disappoint. Just wait awhile and away it went.
Old Faithful is remembered because of its faithfulness. Faithfulness is something to be prized. It is worth much. Today I want to talk to you about faithfulness, and particularly the faithfulness of God.
The Bible assures us that God is faithful, and there are four things about His faithfulness I want us to think about. Its:
The best-known declaration in the Bible of the faithfulness of God has to be Lamentations 3:23 where the prophet says, “Great is your faithfulness.” In context it sounds like this: “Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” That’s the truth; God is faithful. It is a truth affirmed many times in the Bible. I like Psalm 36:5, “Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” Scripture speaks of God’s faithfulness in very big terms and rightly so.
III. Vindication, and;
It also speaks of Jesus’ faithfulness. Hebrews 2:17 says, “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” And Revelation 1:5, “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.”
God the Father is faithful. The Lord Jesus is faithful. Of this we can be sure. But there is a question that we need to ask – faithful to what? Deuteronomy 7:9 is very helpful in answering that question. “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” God is faithful in keeping His covenant, and in as much as His covenant contains promises, we can conclude that God is faithful to His promises.
Genesis 17 records the covenant that God made with Abraham. There God said, “I will make my covenant between me and you.” Then God went on to promise to make Abraham “exceedingly fruitful.” He would have many descendents. God also promised to give to Abraham the land of Canaan. God’s promises are rich and full.
Later on God made a promise to Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, when he was about to go to Egypt. God said to him, “I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again”; another promise that God faithfully kept. Still later God appeared to Moses at the burning bush and announced to him, “I have surely seen the oppression of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land, to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey.” God had remembered His promise and was now about to keep it.
God faithfully keeps His promises, and as you read your Bible, you discover it is full of the promises of God. Listen to some of the promises the faithful God makes to us in the new covenant. We have the promise of the forgiveness of sins in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We have the promise of sanctification in I Thessalonians 5:23,24, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” God promises to sanctify, to perfect, to renew and improve us, spirit, soul and body. He who calls us to and promises such sanctification is faithful and He will do that sanctifying work.
We have another promise in I Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man;. but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” God promises to make a way for us through the temptations and trials of life, and He is faithful to that promise. God also promises to care for us, and He does.
And finally, we have the promise of our Lord to come back again to take us to his Father’s house. In all these promises, God is saying to us, “I will bless you and I will be faithful to that promise.” God is the faithful One. Jeremiah was right “Great is your faithfulness!”
It would be well if everyone counted on the faithfulness of God to carry them through all the ups and downs of life, but that is not the way it is. The faithfulness of God is often questioned, if not denied outright as well. When you think of the life of Abraham, it is hard to imagine that there were not times in his life when he too questioned the faithfulness of God. In fact, the evidence goes the other way. There were times when Abraham actually questioned God’s faithfulness. God had promised descendents and Sarah was barren. What was Abraham to do? Rather than trust God to faithfully keep His promise, Abraham brought Hagar into the picture to achieve what God had not seemed able to do. While Hagar did give Abraham a son, Abraham and his descendents have come upon no end of grief because of that son and the grief continues yet today. Abraham paid a price for questioning the faithfulness of God.
I think also of Jacob’s children after Jacob died and they had become slaves in Egypt. For over 400 years they were forced to labor daily for the Egyptians. Did they not think God had forsaken them? Did they not question the faithfulness of God? Even after God had delivered them from Egypt by His mighty arm and outstretched hand, they were still not willing to trust His faithfulness, frequently proposing that they return to Egypt rather than trust God to faithfully take them to the promised land.
The faithfulness of God is often questioned. Peter tells us that in these last days, scoffers will come, people who live according to their lusts, and they will inquire, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” Christ isn’t going to keep His promise of returning. They don’t trust the faithfulness of God either. They question it as well.
And what about us? Do we not find ourselves questioning God’s faithfulness too? Is He really going to sanctify us wholly and preserve us blameless at the coming of Christ? We keep tripping over our sins and begin to think it is never going to change. Does God really care for us when everything is going against us and we give up all hope of seeing things get better? Does God really make a way out of every trial and temptation for us? Where is God’s faithfulness when I need it? Let’s face it, we all have our moments when we question the faithfulness of God. It’s just human nature; fallen human nature. We concentrate on our problems and they seem to get so big that we can’t handle them, when we should be concentrating on the faithfulness of God and counting on His deliverance. May God deliver us from our doubts and questioning and grant to us an unquestioning faith, come what may, for God’s faithfulness can be counted on.
Maybe the faith of Abraham and Jacob was tested along the way. Maybe the children of Israel did have their moments of doubt and complaint before they reached the promised land. Maybe you have had your doubts and questions too, but that does not deny the faithfulness of God.
Scripture vindicates the faithfulness of God in most impressive ways. Just ask Joshua his opinion on the faithfulness of God. Joshua will answer in Joshua 23:14, “Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.” Joshua, who lead the army of Israel in the conquest of Canaan as he was about to die, could say “God has faithfully kept everyone of His promises.”
Here we are, the descendents of Abraham, a great company of people, and we are in possession of the land of Canaan. God has proved himself faithful to His promises. God is faithful. God keeps his word. He may test us. He may try us but in the end, he is faithful to all his promises. God is faithful. Joshua proved him to be so.
I think also of God’s promise to send us a redeemer. The promise was first made to Adam and Eve in the garden. The promise was renewed to Abraham, to Israel, to David. And did not God come to us in the person of his beloved Son? Did not Jesus fulfill all righteousness in our behalf? Did he not give himself over to the death of the cross? Did he not suffer and die for our sins? Did he not rise again from the dead for our justification? Has he not proved as no one else has proved, that God is faithful?
God is faithful. There is nothing of which I am more certain than that. We who believe in Jesus are forgiven. God is at work now, perfecting us. He is caring for us today and he will receive us into glory. Praise God, he is faithful. Maybe we are not in heaven yet, but that doesn’t mean we will not be there tomorrow. Maybe we go through troubles and trials today, but God has said they are just the means of testing and building our faith. Why, the trials themselves are evidence of God’s faithfulness, for he has said they will come. And bear in mind what Jeremiah has said. Were it not for God’s faithful mercy, we would have died for our sins long ago. God’s mercy is new every day. Every day that God gives us to live is proof of his mercy and proof of his faithfulness also.
God is faithful and scripture together with life proves that it is so. The faithfulness of God is vindicated.
Now then, if it is demonstrated that God is faithful, what manner of people do you suppose we ought to be, we who are created in God’s image and likeness?
There is but one answer we can give to that question. We too must be faithful. Indeed, the scriptures command us to be faithful. Revelation 2:10 says, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” To this you can add I Corinthians 4:2, “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”
God calls us to faithfulness and God makes provision that we might be faithful, for faithfulness is another one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22 assures us that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” As we give our hearts and lives to Jesus, he fills us with his Holy Spirit and the Spirit enables even us to be faithful. Do not minimize your need of God’s Spirit in this regard. We have such depraved hearts that faithfulness among men is a rare occurrence.
Proverbs 20:6 asks, “Who can find a faithful man?” Well, you can find a few in the Bible. Moses was one of them. In Numbers 12:7 God says, “My servant Moses, he is faithful in all my house.” Daniel was another. Daniel 6:4 tells us that the governors and satraps sought to find some fault with Daniel, “but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful.” Paul testified of Timothy’s faithfulness. I Corinthians 4:17 says, “Timothy… is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord.” Paul also tells us in I Timothy 1:12, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.”
So you see, it is possible to be faithful, as well as being required of us. We need to be faithful to God, faithful in worshipping him, faithful in keeping his commandments, faithful in serving him, and we need to be faithful to one another, faithful to parents, faithful to husbands and wives, faithful to neighbors and associates, faithful to our word no matter to whom it is spoken. Let the world abandon faithfulness, as it seems to be doing today, but let us who claim to follow Jesus give ourselves to faithfulness, because God is faithful and wants His children to be like Him.
I find myself a bit in envy of that geyser in Yellowstone National Park. It has been given the name of “old faithful” and I think – what a great name to have! Wouldn’t it be something if you or I were called “old faithful”? But never mind what people call you. There comes a day when the trumpet of God will sound and we will all stand before the throne of God to be judged by him. The one thing I want in that day is to hear him say of me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Amen.